Today is Hari Merdeka (Merdeka Day), which is Malaysian Independence Day. To be honest, I’m not exactly the most patriotic person – but I do love a good theme. So of course, today’s featured kuih has been dressed up as the Malaysian flag (Jalur Gemilang/Stripes of Glory ).
This is Kuih Lapis (literally Layered Kuih), and it is commonly coloured pink and white, but I’ve made the topmost layer blue instead of the usual bright red.
I based this on a recipe found in one of mum’s handwritten notebooks. I find the requisite tick indicating the recipe is “good”, but what’s this? Only ingredients are listed, not the method. I don’t think mum would have appreciated a late-night phone call demanding to know how to make kuih lapis, and luckily I find another recipe in her books with a method attached.
Confession time: My first batch didn’t turn out well (the texture was too tough), mostly due to my laid back approach towards ingredient substitution. I didn’t have quite enough coconut milk as required by the recipe, so I topped it up with water instead.
I really, really, really, really hate wasting food but I did have to throw that lot out because even though it was edible, I wasn’t going to eat a whole tray of a coconut milk laden dessert by myself.
Second time around, I tried another substitution – this time involving evaporated milk, just to see if I could cut down on the coconut milk. I also cut down on the amount of tapioca starch and increased the rice flour to get a softer kuih. Success! There was a minor moment of prancing round the kitchen singing “I did it! I did it!”
I also added a hint of lime to the flavouring. Lime isn’t a traditional addition to this kuih, but I needed to find an alternative after accidentally beheading my beloved pandan plant. (A long and sad story involving a jury-rigged winter shelter meant to protect the plant from the elements).
Even though the kuih turned out well, I am now faced with the dilemma of storing it. Once put in the fridge, the texture becomes “tougher”. A way to remedy this is to heat it up briefly in the microwave. And there is still a fair bit of kuih to get through even though I have help from the mini-critics this time round. So I’ve packed some away in the freezer and I’m hoping it will thaw out successfully. Fingers crossed.
Most importantly, what did Mr. Kitchen Hand think of all this?
The MKH Scale-O-Meter
(points out of 5)
Appearance: 3.5 (“Extra point for hysterically pro-Malaysia theme”)
Taste: 3.5 (“Started inoffensively and ended with a hint of charm”)
Texture: 1.5 (“This is kuih, what do you expect – a round of applause?”)
And just when I thought I was being highly original, I discovered another blogger had done the whole Kuih Lapis as flag thing well before me (but for American Independence Day instead). Check out Lily’s blog for a slightly different recipe).
(the TWS version)
220g rice flour
80g tapioca flour
270 g coconut milk
130 g evaporated milk
½ cup water
grated rind of 1 lime + juice form ¼ lime (instead of the more traditional pandan leaves)
Sift rice flour and tapioca flour into a large bowl. Mix both the coconut and evaporated milk together. Make a well in the flour and pour in the milk mixture. Stir together until smooth.
Make syrup by heating sugar, water and lime rind and juice over medium heat. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved then remove from heat and set aside to cool for a little while.
(edit: forgot to mention when to add the syrup to the batter. Do it after the syrup has cooled, sitr until batter and syrup are well incorporated).
Prepare the steamer. The easiest way is to set a trivet/pot stand in the base of a wok and fill with water until just below the top of the pot stand. Bring water to a simmer and cover with lid.
Divide the kuih lapis batter into 3 portions. 1 small portion – about ¾ cup for the topmost layer and 2 equal portions for the other layers. Colour the topmost layer bright red (or whatever colour you want). Colour another portion light red/ pink and leave the last portion white.
This is from attempt no. 1. I also tried experimenting with the flavour and added pureed raspberry to the red layer - not worth doing.
Lightly oil a baking tin/ other heatproof mould. Pour a little of the white batter into the tin then steam for about 5 minutes or until set (otherwise the layers will merge into each other).
Remove from steamer and pour in some of the pink batter and steam for about 4/5 minutes. Continue this pouring and steaming, alternating the layers as you go. After the final layer has been added, steam for slightly longer 8-10 minutes to make sure it is cooked. Occasionally wipe down the lid of the wok so that condensation doesn’t drip back into the kuih lapis.
Let the kuih cool and cut into diamonds or any other shapes that take your fancy.